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home : news : national news free February 20, 2020

1/6/2020 12:28:00 PM
Global stocks sink, gold and oil prices jump over escalating US-Iran tension

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell in morning trading on Wall Street Monday as investors worried that tensions between the U.S. and Iran would escalate.

A U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general last week and prompted threats of retaliation from Iran. That has rattled financial markets around the world and made oil prices more volatile as investors remain uncertain about how Iran will respond.

Banks and other financial companies led the losses. Fifth Third Bancorp fell 1.2% and Capital One shed 1.3%.

Industrial stocks also fell. UPS slipped 1.8% and railroad operator CSX dipped 1%.

Energy companies continued to hold up well. Oil prices rose sharply in the early going over fears that any conflict in the Middle East could disrupt the flow of oil from the region. Oil prices gave back some of those gains by late morning. Occidental Petroleum rose 2.2%.

Gold prices climbed to a seven-year high earlier in trading as investors focused on safer holdings. Gold was up 1% in midday trading.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell less than 0.1% as of 11:44 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 56 points, or 0.2%, to 578. The Nasdaq rose 0.1%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 0.2%.

WEEK AHEAD: The first full week of the new year could help give investors a clearer picture of the economy at the close of 2019. On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management will release its December report on the U.S. service sector, which makes up the bulk of the economy.

The most closely watched economic report this week will likely be Friday’s government jobs report for December. Solid employment figures were a key factor in driving economic growth last year.

SPLATTERED YOLK: Egg producer Cal-Maine Foods fell 9.4% after reporting a surprising loss and weak revenue for its fiscal second quarter.

BIG SMILE: Dental products maker SmileDirectClub jumped 14.6% after making a deal to sell a new line of products exclusively at Walmart. The company, known for its clear teeth aligners, said it will offer electric toothbrushes, teeth whitening systems and other dental items at the nation’s largest retailer.

ALL THAT GLITTERS: Gold producer Newmont rose 1% after the company said it will raise its quarterly dividend by 79%. The company and its peers continue to benefit from higher gold prices that include an 18.9% jump in 2019.

OVERSEAS: European and Asian markets fell. Germany’s DAX slumped 0.7%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 shed 1.9% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.8%. Asian countries are particularly dependent on oil from the Middle East and higher prices could hurt their economies.

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